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**Disclaimer** - I’m a long time role-player. Almost 30 years of experience. Examples and references below are based on my personal experiences and average responses of the people I’ve played with. This review assumes you have familiarized yourself with the publicly available information about the material discussed. (i.e. Advertised descriptions, RPGG game information entry, Possible publicly available rules, etc.) If you’re concerned about spoilers do not read this review. I try to limit details in my reviews, but some things have to be mentioned to give readers an idea of what is being discussed.
RPG ITEM: Protect and Serve
Overall Quality: -
The Product - An expansion supplement for the Cyberpunk 2020 RPG. Protect and Serve is a 96-page rules and story supplement dealing specifically with law enforcement in the Cyberpunk universe. Typical of books released by R. Talsorion games at the time, this was a color, soft cover book with black and white interior. The art was not the highest quality available but was decent and several of the images could be inspiring to the imagination.
The book is not the most durable of products, it is a bit flimsy and suffers wear and tear quickly with heavy use. The back of the book included a couple of cut out forms for bureaucratic police use, but I’d recommend making copies instead of cutting them out. The book is decent reading, though I found it tougher to get through then some of the other supplements for Cyberpunk.
Layout – Cyberpunk 2020 had a history of releasing supplements which, though not a series, tended to follow a similar format. Protect and Serve is similar to other releases like Neo-Tribes or Live & Direct. Similar in that these supplements were focused mainly on a typical “Roll”, (character class), for Cyberpunk. For Protect and Serve the main Role focus was Cop.
The first section of the book dealt with Cop as a character Role, and included rules which pertained mostly to players. The 2nd section had a lot of information players could use, but began to expand on story details and what a Cop might “feel” like character wise in-game.
The following three sections dealt with much more story background and filler for law enforcement in the Cyberpunk setting. How things worked, the processes used by law enforcement agencies & the justice system, criminal organization overviews, GM information on running a law enforcement campaign and some new NPCs and a sample police precinct.
The final section included a few short scenarios, which were mostly single encounters with adventure hook, the rest being up to the GM to work out. A few of the scenarios had more to offer than a single encounter though.
Mechanics: – The book includes an entire life path for PCs. Also included are the stats on many new unique and generic NPCs as well as new equipment. Equipment includes weapons, ammo, vehicles, cyberware, and many other items. Also more information on the Authority Special Ability.
Fluff – The book is filled with story background regarding Law Enforcement agencies and their internal structuring. How laws are enforced and criminals prosecuted. There are examples of daily police life, how processes work and how to work within, or outside, a bureaucratic organization.
There is even information on the bad guys. Typical bad guys, organized crime groups, and the colorful gangs of the future.
Character Offerings – Lots of goodies for players, most notable of which is a new life-path generator than focused on a law enforcement background, (Police Academy and Rookie years sort of thing). There was new information on promotions and commendations for Cop characters. New skills are available. Also there are quite a few new toys for players to look over and try to acquire.
Behind the Screen Use – Protect and serve isn’t really a supplement you’d have to have at the ready. Its more of a pre-prep document, and may be referenced occasionally during play.
Campaign / Adventure Offerings – The scenarios offered are not really a value in and of themselves. Some can be inspiring, but with the advent of so many Crime Solving TV shows lately most will seem old hat to the average detective story fan. Also, GMs may actually find the book to be counter productive to running campaigns. Let me qualify that statement, by counter productive I’m referring to GMs who are much more free form and open ended. The restriction of a disciplined paramilitary organization can be somewhat binding to GMs and players used to doing their own thing. The book reminds GMs and players alike that being a Cop has a lot of bureaucratic baggage as well as organizational limitations to a Cop character’s in-game story choice options. Personally, as a GM, I saw this as a challenge instead of detraction.
Roadblocks – The limitations placed on Cop characters who are tied to a bloated bureaucratic organization can be the biggest hurdle. If all the players play Cop characters this is less of an issue. But when players play a varied collection of character Roles, the Cop roll can become a looming shadow over the story. The fact is that the Cop character has to answer to an authority. This will have limitations on their options as far as travel & amount of time spent on non-police related matters.
Having structured adventures with guided story helps immensely, but free form sandbox campaigns can become challenging at times.
I’ve always been fond by law enforcement and police in general. So I was happy when I obtained this supplement and enjoyed the book in its day. Life experience and time have shown me that the book doesn’t really hold up to significant tests of sophisticated law enforcement fans. There are simply too many forensic crime shows around. Law Enforcement and its processes have become main stream knowledge to many, and this 96 page book is just not enough to cover all that is needed.
Don’t get me wrong, I still like the book. But I find myself thinking, ’I’ll have to change that.’, much more when reading it now.
Thank you for reading my review. It makes the effort worthwhile.
- Last edited Tue Jan 22, 2013 10:29 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Mon Jan 14, 2013 5:44 pm
My longest running, most memorable and to this day still the most talked about campaign back in the days of the Windsor Gaming Society was based on this book.
Every character was a NCPD cop. I did bend the rules a bit and let players take the usual roles and special skills but besides that everyone was a Cop. We had an awesome time. The beurocracy and the paperwork was some of the best and most memorable parts of it too. This is probably my favourite 2020 book ever produced.
Now I will admit I haven't read it in years now, probably 20 of them, so maybe looking at it now it would seem lacking, but man back in the day it was awesome. The only thing that made it better was combining it with Maximum metal and running A.D. Police games.